HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF CINCINNATUS
The town of Cincinnatus was one of the original townships of the military tract; it comprises 15,702 3/4 acres. It is bounded on the north by Taylor; on the east by Chenango County; south by Willet, and west by Freetown.
The surface consists of the valley of the Otselic River and ridges which rise upon either side. Nearly the entire surface of the town is divided into steep hills and ridges divided by deep ravines, through which flow the tributaries of the Otselic.
The town was organized April 8th, 1804, and retained its original limits until April 21, 1818, when it was divided by the erection of Freetown, Willet and Marathon.
The settlement of Cincinnatus began in 1795. The inducements to pioneers were not so favorable in this region as in some other portions of the county; the lands were regarded as less desirable for cultivation, and the rugged character of the surface tended to retard settlement somewhat until a comparatively recent period. Later develpments, however, have proven that the town is one of the most productive in the county, and the farmers get a good return for their labor. The soil is varied in character, and is generally better adapted to grazing than the raising of grain. In late years dairying has engaged a large share of the attention of the farmers of the town and they have the reputation of producing butter and cheese of the very best quality.
The earliest settlers of Cincinnatus were John Kingman, Thaddeus Rockwell, Zuriel Raymond, Dr. John McWhorter, Ezra Rockwell and Samuel Vining. Mr. Kingman was a native of Wethersfield, Mass., where he was born Oct. 5, 1770. He left home at the age of sixteen and learning the shoemaker's trade with Mr. McGee, in Sheffield. When he was 25 years old, he came to Cincinnatus and located on lot 19, bringing with him his wife and his infant son, John Kingman, Jr., who now lives in Cincinnatus at the age of 85 years. Mr. Kingman was an industrious man, and being a good shoemaker, he worked on his small tract of 15 acres of land in day time and made boots and shoes evenings. He thus prospered and purchased additional land until his farm embraced 150 acres. His worth as a citizen was appreciated by his townsmen, who kept ihim in the office of supervisor for 11 successive years and in ther town offices at different times. He also rose from the military office of corporal in an infantry company, to colonel. He died in 1859, and his wife in 1854. His family were Leroy W., Lyman, Oliver, Charles and John, the last 3 settling in this town. John is the only one now living, and is one of the oldest permanent residents of the town and county. He held the office of supervisor 8 years and was sent to the Legislature in 1844. Orange Spencer, Mr. Kingman's neighbor is the next oldest resident of the town and was one of his first school mates. Oliver Kingman was associate judge from 1828 to 1846, and the family as a whole became prominent members of the community, three of the sons having been elected to the Legislature. All of them were merchants at some period of their lives, and none of them ever failed in busines.
The Rockwells came from Lenox. Mass. Ezra located first in Solon (now Taylor) in 1793, but 2 years later removed to Cincinnatus and settled on lot 19, where he purchased 100 acres. Thaddeus located on lot 9.
Dr. McWhorter came originally from Washington Co., in 1798, but came into Cincinnatus from Oxford, Chenango Co. He married a step-daughter of Zurial Raymond, it being the first wedding in the town, and there is quite a romance connected with the event. At the time of the marriage there was no person in Cincinnatus who had the required authority to perform the ceremony; consequently a clergyman was employed to come from Oxford to officiate. Upon his arrival a new difficulty presented itself; the minister had no authority to marry outside of the county of Chenango. So,in order that the bond might be properly tied, the little wedding party, escorted by Thomas Rockwell, started on a trip across the borders of the county. Reaching what they supposed was their destination within the limits of Chenango County, they halted at a beautiful sylvan spot in the the opening and there, surrounded only by nature's loveliest works, the twain were made man and wife. It was afterwards learned with some consternation that the wedding party had not in reality passed out of what was then Onondaga County, and it is said that the ceremony was again performed under such circumstances as could leave no doubt as to its legality. Dr. McWhorter became one of the most prominent men in the town and enjoyed an excellent reputation throughout the county. He was a politician of considerable eminence, and was entrusted with the administration of several important offices. From 1804 to 1808 he was a Member of the Assembly. He also held the office of surrogate. He had a large and respectable family of children.
Zurial Raymond, before mentioned, came from Williamstown, Mass. He located on lot 29, on a Revolutionary bounty claim which came to him through his wife, a widow Young.
Phineas Sergeant, from Oxford, came into Cincinnatus in 1796, and Chares De Belle, from Berkshire, Mass., came in and located on lot 9, in 1797. He married a sister of Thomas Rockwell, and died in 1854; his wife living to a very old age. They had 5 children.
Jesse Locke, from Oxford, settled on lot 19 about the year 1800. Many of the early settlers in the old town of Cincinnatus have been noticed in the histories of Freetown, Willet and Marathon.
The Wyoming, Onondaga and Oneida Indians made annual visits to the valley of the Otselic, which was a favorite hunting and camping-ground with them. In 1796 40 Oneidas camped on the ground now occupied by the brick store, and during the fall and winter they killed 42 bears, the oil from which they preserved in some of the larger intestines, using it for cooking, etc. Soon after Col. Kingman began clearing and improving his land they removed farther down the river.
An old resident informs us that these Indians were invariably peaceable and well disposed, and that, although the doors of the settler's cabins were seldom fastened, it was very rare that anything was missed, the taking of which could be charged to the Indians. He distinctly remembers when a little boy, of going to bed with his little brothers, in the main room of their log house (there probably was but one room), a blazing fire being left in the great fireplace. As the evening advanced, an Indian would come stealthily in, making scarcely a sound, usually followed by a dog. He would deliberately lie down with his feet to the fire, his gun by his side and the dog next to the gun. Soon another Indian would come in in the same manner and take his position for the night by the side of the other, with gun and dog next to him. So these sons of the forest would continue to come into the house until frequently there would be 8 or 10 of their swarthy figures lying in a circle like the spokes of a wheel, with their feet all pointing toward the fire and usually alternated in each instance by a dog and a gun. Here they would sleep in peace through the chilly autumn night, and early in the morning start out on the chase. Wolves, bear and other wild animals were then numerous, and it is not more than about 60 years ago that the former animals broke into a sheep inclosure in that neighborhood and killed every one of the flock.
Among the early settlers in the town were the grandparents of Mr. A.M. Greene, who states that his grandfather, Thomas Place, settled here in 1818. He lived until the 6th of March, 1875, when he fell upon a saw-buck, from the effects of which accident he died in a few days. A singular fatality to the other members of the 2 families of grandparents of Mr. Greene followed this calamity. The wife of Mr. Place, on the 3rd of Sept. following her husband's death, made a misstep near the same spot where Mr. Place met with the accident, from the effects of which she also died in a few days. Joseph Greene, the paternal grandfather of A.M. Greene, lived in the town from about the year 1818 until April 15, 1881, when he fell over a precipice about 15 feet in height, while going through a piece of woods, and was killed. His wife lost her life by a fall though a hay mow.
Joseph Greene's son, Albert C., is the father-in-law of William O. Greene, the present able editor of the "Otselic Valley Register."
Although the inhabitants of this town, in common with those of Solon, Taylor, and Willet, were much elated a few years since by the bright prospect of a railroad, which would connect them with the Midland road and with Cortland village, they are thus far disappointed, and the town is isolated from railroad comunication. This fact has operated to its disadvantage in many ways - chiefly in retarding the growth of its busness centers; where, in former years, as an old resident informs us, at short distances on all the reads were log houses filled with children, when all the trading of the town was done within its limits; now those children have grown to maturity and gone away to railroad centers and business has fallen off. (Footnote: The census shows that, in 1820, immediately after the town was divided, the population of the town was 885. This had increased to 1,206, in 1850, but was only 1,119 in 1855, while the census of 1880 shows a population of 1,093).
The early inhabitants of this town suffered the common inconvenience of having no near grist-mills, and were compelled to go to Chenango Forks, Ludlowville or Manlius Square to have their grinding done. Their grists were usually transported to those points on "drays", a very simple vehicle constructed of a crotched tree with a few pieces of board fastened across the 2 spreading arms with wooden pins. The team was then hitched to the other branch. The pioneers were equal to any such task as getting 8 or 10 bushels of grain to mill 30 miles away, without the aid of a vehicle of any description, in the present understanding of that term.
The first grist-mill in the present town of Cincinnatus was built at an early day, some years previous to 1820, by Ephraim Fish. It was located about half a mile from the village. John Kingman, Jr., states that this mill was owned by his father from 1820 to 1830, but it is not known from whom he purchased it. This mill and the dam were undermined by a flood in 1830 and it went into disuse thereafter.
A Mr. Wilcox built a mill in the village in 1829, and lived in the upper part of the structure; but it was operated only 2 or 3 years.
About the year 1832 or 1833, Dr. John McWhorter erected a mill at Lower Cincinnauts, which was operated until about the year 1850, when it was transformed into a tannery by Kinney and Thompson; it is now used as a tannery by Augustus Smith, who is doing a large business.
George Cole built the most important mill in the town - a steam grist-mill; but it was subsequently taken down and converted into 2 dwelling houses. There is now no grist-mill within the limits of the town.
As we have already intimated, the inhabitants of this town have recently turned their attention to the production of butter and cheese. About the year 1870, Edward and Eli Colegrove began the operation of their factory above the village, turning out a excellent product. Since then Julius Crittenden build a factory near the town of Willet and Porter Crittenden another 2 miles south of the village. These factories are all in operation and do a satisfactory and successful business.
A beautiful little village named Cincinnatus is situated on the Otselic River on lot 19, which contains 2 churches (Congregational and Methodist), an academy, a hotel and a number of stores and shops, with about 575 inhabitants. Lower Cincinnatus is a smaller village of about 20 inhabitants, is located a short distance below the upper village, and contains a church, a hotel, a store, a tannery and a cutter factory.
These are the only villages or hamlets in the town. The first merchants in the place were James Tanner and Elijah Bliss, and the first store was erected by Col John Kingman in 1831. John Kingman, Jr., went into the mercantile business in the spring of that year in a little store which stood on the side of the present brick store. He remained there but one year and was succeeded by Roswell Randall and Jerry Bean, who built the brick store in 1832. During the same year John Kingman, Jr. built the store now owned by George Cole and occupied by Charles and Arthur Cogswell, where he traded until 1842.
In 1834, Oliver KIngman began business in a little store on the west side of t the creek where he continued until 1854, at which time he and his brother George bought the brick store of Halbert and Bean. In 1856, they sold out to H.M. and Jefferson Kingman. Following is a list of the successive merchants who have occupied the brick store: Randall and Bean; Bean & Niles; Bean, Niles & Boyd; J.C. Bean; Halbert & Bean; H.M & Jefferson Kingman; Kingman & Sturdevant; Kingman & Lewis; Kingman & Wheeler; Oliver, George & J. Kingman; and H.M & J. Kingman.
In the store occupied by Chas. and Arthur Cosgwell, the following merchants did business, succeeding John Kingman, who was for a time associated with Charles and George Kingman: Kingman & Perkins; Haynes and Warren: Jefferson Kingman; Monroe Smith; David D. Uffod, who was there from 1866 to 1882, in which latter named year to the present occupants of the store.
The store building now owned by James Hill was built by Porter Crittenden in 1864, who was there in business with his son-in-law, Monroe E. Smith, until 1868. He was succeeded by D.D. Ufford, who continued until the spring of 1877. In Sept. of that year, Mr. Hill took it and has continued the business until the present time.
The grocery and drug business was established in the village about the year 1860. It passed into the hands of Cornell & Gee, Israel Gee & Co, and to the present proprietor, Wilber Holmes, who began it in 1868. He has had immediate charge of the post-office since 1872 and virtually since 1866.
The first postmaster in the place was Major James Tanner. Then came Jusdon Brown, Judge Niles, John Kingman (1844 until 1850), Oliver Kingman, George Kingman, Jefferson Kingman (1856 to 1865), Israel Gee, and Wilber Holmes, the present incumbent.
The furniture business was established in Cincinnatus by Hitchcock & Barnes, who conducted it until 1877, when they sold out to W.W. Grant, the present proprietor.
B.R. & L.H. Corning have carried on the hardware trade sine 1880. C.W. Smith, hats, caps, and gents' furnishing goods, since 1882. S.G. Kien, jewelry, hats, caps, etc., since 1876.
The only hotel in Cincinnatus village, now kept by A.E. Perry, was built by Charles Kingman in 1831. He kept it a few years and was succeeded by John Kingman, after whom I.M Samson took the house. He kept it 5 years, and was followed by J.C. Clark, D.J. Sperry, Smith & Sherman Hotchkiss, Gibson Smith and J.C. Weaver, who repaired it and sold to the present proprietor.
Physicians - Dr. John McWhorter was the pioneer physician of Cortland County, a native of Washington County, NY, and located in Cincinnatus in 1795. He was an able man, a good physician for that period, but he did not confine himself to practicing his profession. Entering the political field, he was honored with several offices, as before stated. Following him came Dr. Norris Briggs, Dr. White, Dr. Lyman Eldridge, a man who became greatly respected for his attainments in the profession, and as a citizen; Dr. A.D. Reed (now of Marathon), Amasa J. Quivey, who began practice in 1862 as an eclectic, but subsequently studied in the old school of medicine; Dr. Marcellus L. Halbert, Dr. Barnes, a student with Dr. Reed, and an assistant surgeon in the US army, and Dr. Marcellus Smith, now the oldest physician in the place. Dr. Smith became a member of the County Medical Society in 1853. He bought out Dr. Eldridge, and has followed his profession regularly since that time.
Manufactures - There has been considerable manufacturing done in Cincinnatus for many years, and there are now several important establishments here. Jonas Cormick was the first blacksmith in the town. He was here as early as 1820, and about the same time Solomon Gritman began in the upper village. Cook & Greene were also early blacksmiths. Joseph Gee worked for this firm many years, and then went into business for himself. In 1840, Nathan Dwight formed a partnership with Mr. Gee, which firm continued until 1851, when Gee went out and Mr. Dwight continued alone until 1866. N.A. Robbins has been in the business here for 22 years. His shop was built in 1829, and was used for religious purposes until the erection of the Baptist Church. Elder Howe preached in this building, and was the pioneer Baptist minister of Cincinnatus.
The manufacture of cutters was established in 1860 by Larabee & Gee, which business was continued until 1876, when H.C. Larabee removed to the lower village. In 1861, N. France and C.B. Hitchcock came to the place, and the former, after working for the above-mentioned firm until 1874, began business on his own account.
Churches - Public religious worship did not begin within the limits of Cincinnatus as early as in some other localities, chiefly on account of the proximity of early church organizations in other towns at no great distance. Lots 1, 16, 37, 49, 53, and 62 of this town were set aside for the support of the gospel and schools. The first sermon ever preached within the original limits of Cincinnatus was by Mr. Williston from the text, "Hear ye." What was known as the Union Congregational Society of Cincinnatus and Solon was organized on the 18th of November, 1822. The trustees were John L. Boyd, Barak Niles and John Covert.
The Congregational Society of Cincinnatus is reported on the minutes of the General Assembly as having been received under the care of the Presbytery of Cortland, September 14, 1831. Just what time it was first organized we have not learned. In 1831, it had 110 membes, of whom 60 were received that year. In 1836, it reported 162 members, but in 1846, the number was reduced to 130. The membership is now much smaller, and the society is feeble. The Rev. Orin Catlin was the stated supply of this church, under the patronage of the American Home Missionary Society, from October, 1832. Rev. Joseph R. Johnson was ordained and installed pastor February 16, 1846. He continued with the church 2 or 3 years, and was then succeeded by Rev. Eleazer T. Ball, who took charge June 8, 1849. He remained until a few years prior to the last war, when the present pastor, Rev. Edson Rogers, accepted the office.
Schools - The first school-house in Cincinnatus was built by John Kingman and stood a short distance south of his house. The first teacher was Miss Hepsy Beebe, but in what year we have not been able to learn. Since that time schools have multiplied throughout the town and the cause of education has flourished.
Cincinnatus Academy was founded in 1857, in which year a spacious and convenient building was erected. This, with its surrounding grounds, handsomely laid out and pleasantly shaded with maples, forms one of the most attractive features of the beautiful village. The people have always been enthusiastic and unaninimous in their support of this institution, rendering it one of the most successful and widely known academies in the State. A good library has been furnished, with philosophical apparatus, etc. Following is the present Board of Trustees, of which H.M. Kingman has been president from the first organization: --
H.M. Kingman, president; Henry Knickerbocker, secretary; J.W. Sturdevant, treasurer; B.R. Corning, D.D. Ufford, John Kingman, J.B. Boyd, F.M. Benjamin, M.R. Smith, MD, M.L. Halbert, MD, Wilber Holmes, C.W. Smith, C.R. Dickinson, Anson Cogswell, ex officio, Rev. William D. Johnson, Rev. Edson Rogers, Rev. W.H. York.
The first corps of instructors consisted of Ambrose P. Kelsey, A.B. principal; Frank Place, mathematics; John Seaber, penmanship; Miss Mary T. Gleason, preceptress; Mrs.Vivena M. Austin, asistant teacher; Miss Cornelia A Kingman, music.
The present instructors are: Myron E. Carmer, A.B. principal; Miss Alice Jones, preceptress; Miss Stella Kingman, common English; Mrs. E.L. Samson, piano.
There are 3 courses of study each of which affords a number of optional studies.
First, a business course, including common English branches, not complete until a regent's preliminary certificate is obtained. Book-keeping, algebra, physiology, American history, rhetoric, political economy and physics.
Second, an academic course. Third, a classical, or collegiate entrance course, each terminating in a regent's academic diploma.
There is a flourishing literary society connected with the school, which holds weekly meetings, and affords opportunities for improvement in composition, declamation, extemporaneous speaking, etc. The teachers, by their presence at all the meetings, by criticisms and suggestions, endeavor to make this department of the school as efficient and the same time as agreeable as any other.
Belonging to the institution is a well selected library, to which students have free access. The leading principles of the sciences are illustrated by ample apparatus. Through the kindness of Mr. John Osgood, students in physiology, and like sciences are often invited to examine with him the minutest workings of nature, by means of a powerful histological microscope, while to students in astronomy he reveals her most vast and distant realms through a telescope having a 5 inch lens.
There is one newspaper published in this town - the "Otselic Valley Register"; the publisher is William O. Greene, who became the owner of the establishment in 1879. It has a circulation of about five hundred and is an excellent journal of its class. (See history of journalism of the county, in an earlier chapter.)
The buildings on the corner at Lower Cincinnatus were built by Dr. John McWhorter, and the store building was erected about the year 1831. It stood empty some time and was afterward kept by Benjamin Kingsley, a Mr. Barnes and others. H.P. Spencer, the present merchant, bought the property of Widow Barnes in 1874; the store being then kept by her son, Frank Barnes.
Charles Goodsell carried on a store on the opposite corner at the times when Benjamin Kingsley was in business.
The manufacture of cutters at Lower Cincinnatus was begun by L.J. Larabee as early as the year 1870. A few years afterward, J.C. Larabee came into the business with his father, and in 1879-80 the large buildings wree erected to accommodate the increasing demand for their work. They are now employing about 25 hands and turn out 3,000 cutters annually.
The hotel of this village was built by Dr. McWhorter about the year 1833 and was kept under his management several years. Reuben Fish, Cornelius Fish and Isaac Fish each kept it for a few years. Mr. Messenger then took the house for a few years and was followed by Adam L. Smith, who kept it for many years until his death, when it was closed as a public house until 1883. D.H. Clark, the present proprietor, then opened the house.
The First Baptist Church at Lower Cincinnatus was organized March 1, 1823, and was a part of the church in German, Chenango County, which was organized in June 1805. When it became inconvenient for the inhabitants of Cincinnatus to attend there, the church here was organized. Rev. John Lawin, the first pastor, served the church until 1825. Rev. Solomon Howe from 1827 to 1836. During the year 1831 the present house of worship was built, services prior to that having been held in private homes or shops. The following pastors have officiated for this church: Rev. Wm. Holroyd, 1837 to 1839; Rev. David Leach, 1839 to 1840; Geo. W. Mead (licentiate), 1840 to 1841; Rev. L.E. Swan, 1841 to 1844; Rev. E.P. Dye, 1844 to 1846; Rev. J.F. Stark, 1846 to 852; Rev. Horace Decker, 1852 to 1857; Rev. L.W. Nichols, 1857 to 1859; Rev. Washington Kingsley, 1859 to 1861; Rev. A. Galpin, 1861 to 1862; Rev. M.R. Everts, 1862 to 1863; Rev. W.G. Dye, 1863 to 1866; Rev. Samuel G. Kein, 1866 to 1867; Rev. E. Holrody, 1867 to 1869; Rev. G.P. Turnbull, 1869 to 1871; Rev. J.B. Cole, 1871 to 1873; Rev. S.P. Way 1873 to 1874; Rev. A. J. Baskwell, 1874 to 1875; Rev. W.W. Beardsley, 1875 to 1876; Rev. Daniel Reese, 1877 to 1879; Rev. C.R. Corning, 1879 to 1882; Rev. Wm. L. Johnson assumed the pastorate in 1882; the society now numbers 82. The present officers are: Russell Grant, Edwin D. White, deacons; Joseph Tice, clerk; M.L. Halbert, treasurer; Joseph Tice, Oscar E. Nichols, M.L. Halbert, Russell Grant, Edwin D. White, Lafayette Spencer, Trustees. The original members of this church who were most prominent, were John R. McWhorter, Alex. Rice, Nathaniel Spencer, Ebenezer Andrus, John and Isaac Smith, George Kingman and others.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Cincinnatus was organized in 1841. The first trustees were Oliver L. Sterling, Chas. Higgins, Chas. Kingman, Lyman Eldridge, Porter Crittenden, and Hiram Rogers. Members of the society were David White and wife, Abner Wood and wife, Abel Dickinson, Lyman Eldridge and wife, Chauncey Phelps, Oliver L. Sterling and wife, Fabus Kinney, G.L. Cole and wife and others. The church edifice was built in 1843-44 and cost $1600. The building was repaired and enlarged at considerable expense in 1872. In 1863-64, the church received large accessions through the division of the Congregational society. Several revivals have occurred in the church, the last being that of 1877. An excellent parsonage was built in 1859. The present membership is 90. The ministers who have officiated here are Revs. Leonard, Bowdish, L.H. Stanley, D.W. Thurston, Wm. Bixby, W.H. Miller, Thos. D. Wire, E.C. Curtis, G.S. White, L. Hartsough, J.H. Barnard, B. Shove, R.H. Clark, J.V. Benham, W.M. Henry, W.D. Fox, A. C. Smith, W.H. York, M.Z. Haskins, 1884.
At the breaking out of the Southern Rebellion, no town in the county came forward with more patriotism and liberality in men and means in support of the government than Cincinnatus. Under the calls of the president for troops the following men enlisted from the town and were credited on the different quotas, receiving the bounties as they appear: --
Call of October, 1863, February 1st, and March, 1864. Bounty to each, $300. Total, $6,600. - Jeremiah Scouton, William C. Pearse, William Kimball, Elihu M. Chamberlain, Stephen Ansel, Sidney W. Clark, Ira W. Forest, Christopher M. Childs, Caleb D. Burlingame, James B. Decker, Volney Weeks, James E. Arnold, John H. GLover, Charles S. Cutting, Herbert Berkley, Geo. Berkley, Urbane B. Smith, Augustine L. Aney, Willett L. McKinney, Henry West, Alfred P. Ransford, Harlan P. Thompson.
Call of July 18th, 1864. Bounty to each, $1000; brokerage, $25. Total bounties, $22,500; total brokerage, $550. - John Savage, John Simpson, John Phillips, Matio Branchett, Jarvis Kelley, Marcus Forrest, Darvilla Ford, Samuel Gibbs, Samuel Van Wort, Thomas Hale, William J. Holmes, Watson J. Holmes, John M. Parks, Alfred Rorepaugh, James W. Sampson, Isaac W. Sherwood, Orlando Vosburgh, Seneca Wright, Peter Ratchel, Edward Clark, George Sweet, Michael Grant, John Nowlan, Patrick Hughs.
Call of December 19th, 1864. Bounty to each, $600; brokerage, $15. Total bounties, $5,100; total brokerage, $135. - J.A. Perkins, James Riley, Phill Beeman, Charles Ernst, Henry Jackson, Henry Physic, Justus Bloomer, Edward W. McFarland, Robert Bundy.
Recapitulation. Paid for filling quotas, calls October 17th, February and March, $6,600; paid for filling quota, call July 18, 1864, $23,050; paid for filling quota, call December 19th, 1864, $5,235. Grand total for all calls, $34,885.
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